Well here’s the first thing we can see wrong with the “Super Congress”
The debt ceiling deal will pass the Senate early this afternoon. No suspense there. But the vote will be worth watching for another reason: Three Republican Senate sources tell TWS that senators who vote against the deal will be ineligible to serve on the so-called “supercommittee” for deficit reduction that the legislation creates.
While there’s certain logic to such a policy, it could be self-defeating. Excluding those who vote against the debt deal will ensure that some of the most fiscally conservative members of the Senate Republican caucus, including most of its freshmen, will be reading about the committee’s activities in the newspaper rather than guiding its decisions. Among those who have already declared their opposition to the deal: libertarian-leaning senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul; Jim DeMint, the aggressive fiscal hawk from South Carolina; conservative reformers Ron Johnson from Wisconsin and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania; the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions; and Florida’s Marco Rubio, already one of the highest-profile conservatives in Congress.
More worrisome for conservatives, however, is that private whip counts in the Senate found that some 20 Republicans expressed support for the proposals that came out of the Gang of Six. And while many of the components of that plan have merit as individual policy proposals, the package involves compromises on taxes anathema to most conservatives. Picking a Gang of Six member – or supporter – would further antagonize conservatives skeptical of the debt ceiling deal.
There’s the problem. If, say, a dozen of the strongest fiscal conservatives vote against the deal, the pool of Republicans that can be expected to hold the line on taxes shrinks very quickly. And if a key Republican objective for the committee is to block tax increases, the exclusion of these strong fiscal conservatives makes meeting that goal more difficult.
Mitch McConnell, who will make the selections, isn’t worried. He told Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto yesterday that the likelihood of tax hikes coming out of the committee is “pretty low.”
“What I can pretty certainly say to the American people, the chances of any kind of tax increase passing with this, with the appointees of John Boehner and I, are going to put in there are pretty low,” said McConnell. He added: “I’m comfortable we aren’t going to raise taxes coming out of this joint committee.”
UPDATE: McConnell spokesman Don Stewart says all senators will be considered. (Time will tell) “No one is stronger in his opposition to tax hikes than Sen. McConnell. He will have serious discussions with all those who are interested in serving prior to making any appointments.”
I might add:….
In addition, the Obama administration has already indicated that it will take the deciding vote as the de facto 13th member of the Super Congress. During his press briefing yesterday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the government would work with the Super Congress to hike taxes in 2012 and beyond.
As the Huffington Post reported last month, the debt deal that has already been passed by the House and faces the Senate tomorrow will create an unconstitutional “Super Congress” that will be comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats and granted “extraordinary new powers” to quickly force legislation through both chambers.
Legislation decided on by the Super Congress would be immune from amendment and lawmakers would only be able to register an up or down vote, eliminating the ability to filibuster. The Speaker of the House would effectively lose the power to prevent unpopular bills from making it to the House floor.
But far from just being a committee that would make recommendations concerning the debt ceiling, the body is now to be granted “even greater super powers, according to multiple news reports and congressional aides with knowledge of the plan,” writes Michael McAuliff.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled no punches in making it plain that the Super Congress would have supreme authority. “The joint committee — there are no constraints,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “They (the Super Congress) can look at any program we have in government, any program. … It has the ability to look at everything.”